offshoring is good for you...,
| Main |
ever read the Lincoln-Douglas debates?...,
"He is, right now, the free and fairly elected President of Haiti.":
"We have a serious humanitarian problem there now."
Powell has presented us with two propositions: that the US considers Aristide legitemately elected,
and that the US must "see what it can do" about Haiti's humanitarian "problem".
Well okay. US policy since 2000 has been to continue to block economic aid to Haiti over disputed elections that were used to paint the Lavalas government as fraudulent. The OAS that month called the
elections credible, three months later the State Department was
calling them "flawed" and blaming
it on Aristide's government, after further actions in July and November disputes over 8 senate seats are resolved (they won by plurality, rather than majority, and so the opposition declared the outcome fraudulent - in an attempt to settle the issue the senators stepped down) and Aristide wins by a landslide against a marginalized opposition that refuses to participate in the elections. The SD, in response, continued it's dispute over the May elections, refusing to send observers in for the November elections which were meant to resolve the alleged flaws in the May elections, the only flaw, apparently, is that the opposition refuses to compete against Aristide, demanding that he step down and that they take over - without elections - apparently living up to their name, the "Democratic Convergence". Quite so. And so continues the aid embargo on Haiti:
On Aristide's return to office in 1994, the USA, other "donor nations", and multilateral organisations promised US$500 million dollars over 2-3 years in development aid to rebuild Haiti's battered health, education, and sanitation infrastructure, and to stimulate what had become one of the weakest economies in the world. Most of this aid has been withheld, thus further crippling Haiti's new democracy.
For example, three loans totalling US $146 million--intended for health sector improvement, education reform, potable water enhancement, and road rehabilitation--were approved through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and by the Haitian government. But these loans have been blocked by a US veto in response to alleged irregularities during national parliamentary elections held in May, 2000.
Nevertheless the USG provides a good deal of aid through NGOs, starving the government but attempting to "help the people" without assisting the government - such as funding the opposition to Aristide
through the IRI. Delivering aid through NGO's, while inefficient, is a fine policy choice when one wants to weaken a government, as is the case here, apparenlty this doesn't apply when engaging autocrats elsewhere that we want to see weakened. Though the sums of aid to
Haiti have been quite large since 1995
most of it has poured back into the US.
This becomes plain when looking at the
US-Haiti trade balance. The amounts of trade are comparable to that under the Duvalier dictatorship of the 80s,
but the trade balance is now export heavy, largely thanks to IMF and WB programs that have continued to push the Haitian government into austerity measures, structural adjustments, and towards an export economy using the same programs
it uses in most other poor nations: grow export crops, lower tariffs on food crops from the US, and let your ag sector starve. What happens when everybody starts growing coffee at the behest of the IMF? The price plummets. Real smart.
On top of this, despite the fact that over half of
Haiti's debt was accrued under a Western supported dictatorship, that it's the poorest country in the Western
hemisphere, and that it has a massive debt burden relative to GDP, Haiti remains
off the HIPC rolls for debt relief.
And now armed thugs are leading an open rebellion,
many of the leaders former members
of FRAPH and other organizations with
strong ties to US intelligence agencies, as well as the present administration (having Otto Reich and Roger Noriega in charge of our latin-american policy is truly fantastic).
The US reponse: let the US supported opposition have it's way with the country or don't expect any help from us with
what is probably a US backed rebellion. Kind of like Venezuela, only more bloody and more likely to succeed. You don't need to like Aristide, you didn't need to like Chavez, you just need to respect democracy. This government has proven once again that it doesn't.
I'll leave you with an observation from the Council on Hemispheric Affairs:
"Washington is unable to
hide its pro-opposition bias, even though it cannot be seen as backing the overthrow of a democratically-elected president."